Thursday, April 2, 2015

Holy Week Philippines

Devotees carry heavy wooden crosses for miles.
I am starting out by saying, I am not a writer or photographer.  I am a curious traveler that likes to find out why certain things are the way they are.  I ask a lot of questions, do too many google searches, and take pics.  I do all of this to get my point across or understood.  With that in mind.  Here is my take on Holy Week here in Angeles City, Philippines. I hope you enjoy.

Holy Week here in the Philippines is like no where else on Earth and most of the towns businesses shut down for an entire week.  The Filipino-catholics' demonstration of faith is extremely intense and peculiar here in the province of Pampanga especially.  The entire week is filled with odd and bloody religious ceremonies and processions that requires seeing to believe.  A few of the highlights are the self flagellations of sinners who parade around streets while whipping and cutting 
their bodies into a bloody mess and/or carrying heavy wooden crosses for many miles.

Palm Sunday a week before Easter Sunday. Kicking off Holy Week with a Mass as this day or Domingo de Ramos starts with the traditional blessing of palms and olive branches followed by a procession to the parish church with the priest taking the role of Christ on the way to Jerusalem usually in the company of 12 men dressed and playing the roles of the 12 Apostles. Traditionally, choir members line the streets and shower the procession with flowers and confetti as they sing. 
This is normally followed by Mass. 

Also starting on Palm Sunday, a small outdoor make shift covered shrine (shrine for the rest of this article)  is erected in the street.  In the center, there is a Jesus on hanging on the cross behind a make shift alter draped in white fabric and covered in flowers.  To the right of that, there is a table that is to be manned 24/7 for a week straight by volunteers and devotees.  These devotees sing and chant and pray into a microphone night and day for a solid week non stop.  Passers by will stop and give blessing or give thanks for their devotion and continue on. Accross the street, they sell consessions and snacks for those who are wishing to participate or watch.  This little outdoor venue is where most of the flagellation processions end in prayer.
Procession of flagellants.

Holy Monday is pretty low key.  Regular people manning the shrines and following the Stations of the Cross around town.

Holy Tuesday is pretty much the same as Monday with the people following the Stations of the Cross.  Travel around town to witness the Pabasa or non-stop chanting of biblical verses in the vernacular in different shrines. Witness the procession of flagellants on the way heading to a chapel for their final journey and prayer.  

Holy Wednesday is kind of a repeat of Monday and Tuesday, but you will seeing more of the the procession of flagellants heading to the chapel for their final journey prayer.

Flagellants praying at a local shine beside the road.
Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Great & Holy Thursday, Sheer Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries is the Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter. It commemorates the Maundy and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles as described in the Canonical gospels. This is the day to go to Mass in observance of the washing of the feet of the apostles and the Last Supper. After the ceremonies, most of the parish priest and the apostles take their own supper at the parish rectory and partake of a meal.  In Lexington, Kentucky where I am from, we would call that "Dinner on the Grounds".  
Picture from

Good Friday at 7 am in Barangay San Pedro Cutud City Of San Fernando Pampanga Philippines the Passion of Christ is performed by local residents. At 12:00 noon, join thousands of people to witness actual crucifixion of a host of 10 - 20 penitents. Or an optional visit to Barangay Lourdes Northwest in Angeles City where another crucifixion takes place between 2:00 - 3:00 pm Churches all over, rites and ceremonies start shortly after noon with the Las Siete Palabras or Seven Last Words, homilies and meditation on the seven final utterances of Christ at Calvary, which end at 3:00 pm, traditionally believed as the hour of Christ's official death.

Black Saturday. Go shopping for Kapampangan delicacies, enjoy Arts & Crafts in San Fernando, Betis, San Matias and Mexico. Sabado de Gloria is highlighted by the evening Mass with the blessing of the fire and water as well as the renewal of the faithful's baptismal vows.

 Picture from
Easter Sunday. At 8:00 am, proceed to Santo Tomas, Pampanga for a festive day of religious events, street dancing, trade fair and variety shows.  You may chose to witness the  Sabuaga Festival aka Shower of Flowers.  This features a showering of petals on the image of the Virgin Mary. Petals and confetti will literally rain on the processional route around Poblacion, starting 2 pm as revelers join groups coming from the town's seven barangays in street dancing. Or you may wish to visit almost any church to witness the most elaborate 'Salubong' at 6:00 in the morning which is a traditional religious event which portrays the meeting of Christ and His mother, Mary, after the resurrection in an elaborate drama acted out by local residents dressed as angels and different biblical characters. All of which will be concluded with fireworks at dark.

Please note, I am not a real writer or a photographer.  I am just a geek who likes to travel and see things.  These things I will try and document to the best of my ability for you to enjoy.  You don't have to take my word for it.  Come to Angeles City and see for yourself.  Here is also a link to the crucifixion on

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Here are some extra pictures I didn't want to waste.  Hope you enjoy.
Devotees carry heavy wooden crosses for miles barefoot.

Flagellants walk and beat their backs with these whips.  That is real blood.

Such a cross to bear and 93 degrees out. The street is hot to the touch.
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